You were pregnant, and now you’re not. For the majority of women who have lost a baby, that reality can be hard to come to terms with. If you and your partner have been through a miscarriage previously, you might be wondering, “What now?”, or “Is there something else that is wrong?” For one thing, understand that it’s perfectly reasonable for both you and your partner to have whatever emotions you’re experiencing — from numbness to sadness, helplessness to grief.
Not everyone reacts the same way, and there is no right or wrong way to deal with the loss of a pregnancy. Allow yourself to feel and express those emotions, whatever they are. Crying is a healthy expression of emotion, so don’t feel as though you need to hold it in or “be strong”. If you have kids, it’s completely alright for them to see you cry. In fact, it helps to teach them that expressing emotion is normal. And if you aren’t feeling as sad or upset as you think you should, that’s OK, too. Everyone is different, and everyone’s circumstances are different. Your feelings may or may not change as time goes on.
We spoke to Dr. Nicole Highet, founder and executive director of the Centre of the Perinatal Excellence, to get her advice on how best to take care of yourself after a miscarriage.
Make self-care a priority
Keeping yourself physically healthy is extremely important right now. Do what you can to ensure that you are getting plenty of rest and have healthy meals available. Don’t hesitate to ask for help — chances are, your friends and family would like nothing more than to support you. Ask a friend to meet you for tea or coffee or to drop off a nourishing meal. If it feels right, try some gentle exercise. Moving your body is an excellent reminder of how capable your body is. Stretching, walking or yoga are good options. If others around you are celebrating pregnancies or have babies, social contact and/or attending events can be difficult. It’s okay to say no to such invitations to give yourself time.
Support for your loss
Many people simply don’t know what to do or say to support those who have miscarried, and you may feel some awkwardness in your interactions, or sometimes even isolation afterward. There is a tendency for people to be overly positive during difficult times, which could come across as insensitivity. If you can reach out to friends and family and clearly state your needs, do so. For example, it’s okay to ask a friend to listen to your story without trying to provide comforting words or trying to make you feel better. If you have friends who have also miscarried, speaking with them can bring great comfort.
Don’t overlook your spouse as a person to talk to. After all, you’re in this together, and you’re both experiencing the loss of the baby – even if you may react in different ways.
If you have a midwife, reach out to them. Also, the doctor or hospital who treated you during your miscarriage will likely be able to refer you to social workers or grief counselors. There are other ways to honor the loss as well. You may choose to light candles, say prayers, or write in a journal about what you’ve been through.
Take your time
After your miscarriage, there may be dates that bring up difficult feelings, such as your original due date or the one year anniversary date of the loss. It’s a good idea to seek extra emotional support during these times. And remember, there is no prescribed timeline to process your feelings around your miscarriage. Take the time you need to heal before you consider whether you’d like to try and get pregnant again or not.
Coping after miscarriage – further information
For more information about coping after miscarriage as well as information about support services that are available, including pregnancy support counselling, vist the COPE wesbite at www.cope.org.au.